Efforts to definitively end the war in Angola during the 1990s ultimately failed. Despite theoretically sharing power in a coalition government, both the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola, UNITA) continued to arm during the uneasy peace established in Lusaka. In 1998, UNITA was suspended from its roles in government for continuing to maintain and arm considerable numbers of troops by smuggling diamonds. With the prospects of renewed war escalating, the MPLA administration strengthened its forces and negotiated cooperation agreements with neighbouring governments, preventing UNITA troops from sheltering over the border.1 In September 1999, MPLA forces launched a major offensive against UNITA, and in December Namibian troops joined the campaign. UNITA was severely weakened by the attack and resorted to guerrilla warfare until, in February 2002, the long-standing leader of UNITA was killed along with several other generals.2 The following month, after consulting the UN and the governments of Portugal and the USA, the MPLA administration announced a unilateral ceasefire and invited the remaining UNITA leadership to negotiate.
UNITA leaders held preliminary talks with their erstwhile adversaries on 15 March, agreeing to a ‘pre-accord’ ceasefire on 18 March. While splits quickly emerged within the hierarchy of UNITA, the representatives at the talks managed to hold enough of the organisation together while the negotiations took place in the city of Luena. These talks resulted in a ceasefire agreement on 30 March 2002, which was formally signed at a ceremony in the capital, Luanda, on 4 April.3 The agreement reiterated the parties’ commitments under the Bicesse Accords and Lusaka Protocol, calling for the resolution of all pending military issues that had been agreed such as Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration and the creation of the Angolan Armed Forces.4 In September 2002, the lengthy process of disarming or integrating UNITA’s 85,000 troops began under the supervision of a joint committee (and without the UN) while the UNITA organisation itself started its transition to a political party. Unlike the agreements of the 1990s, the Luena Memorandum of Understanding was respected by both signatories and established a lasting peace in Angola.